Magical Molten Chocolate Cake

By Grant Melton
March 8, 2018
39 Comments


Author Notes: The recipe starts out like all good magic tricks do, very simply. A silky chocolate cake batter is poured into a pan, then a concoction of brown sugar and cocoa powder. What comes out of the oven looks like a perfectly baked chocolate cake, but there’s a hot, bubbly, molten layer of chocolate fudge underneath. Grant Melton

Makes: 1 cake
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 30 min

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, divided
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • Ice cream, for serving

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter an 8x8 squash baking pan or 9-inch cake pan and set aside.
  2. Place flour, sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk. Using an electric mixer, beat in the butter and milk and mix until smooth and lump-free. Pour the batter into the buttered pan and place onto a cookie sheet, just in case the batter bubbles over a bit. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, using a fork, mix together the remaining 1/4 cup of cocoa powder and the brown sugar. Sprinkle the mixture over top of the cake batter in a flat even layer. Pour the hot water over top and immediately place into the oven.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes. The cake should still be jiggly but dry and shiny on top and bubbly around the edges. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for just a few minutes. Scoop the warm mixture into bowl and top with a scoop of ice cream.

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Reviews (39) Questions (1)

39 Comments

Julie September 4, 2018
I just made this, and it looked lovely. A little dark for my taste.<br /><br />However, after eating it, it gave me the worst food poisoning I've had, barring a norovirus infection. After two hours of gastrointestinal distress, I tossed the rest of it down the garbage disposal, to prevent anyone else from suffering. I would normally not comment something like this, but the effects were unpleasant enough that I had to say something. I'm sorry, but I won't be making this again, ever.
 
Amy M. September 4, 2018
You can't get food poisoning from a recipe. If it was food poisoning, you got it from the quality of one of your ingredients. Given the ingredient list, milk is the only option that could go bad. Alternatively, you could have a food sensitivity.
 
Marie B. July 16, 2018
This recipe is similar to one I make from "Maida Heatter's Cakes" called "Kansas City Chocolate Dream." When I found her recipe I was thrilled because it so closely resembled a childhood dessert my mom made, which we dubbed Chocolate Glop. <br /><br />There is one thing I would recommend for those who had trouble with the bottom layer coming out watery. Maida Heatter's recipe calls for bringing her topping ingredients, (1 cup of water, 1/2 c. brn sugar, 1/3 c. gran sugar, 6 tbs Dutched cocoa, 2 tsp instant coffee) to full boil. I use instant espresso instead of instant coffee, but either would be fine I think. Perhaps something about melting these sugars and having them boil before ladling them over the cake ensures they set up during the baking process...I've never had a failure. Any leftover cake ends up with a layer of pudding underneath the next day, which is also delicious.
 
Ellen M. June 26, 2018
Probably my favorite dessert of all time! Just delicious.
 
Silkwind April 15, 2018
Didn't need pan under it, cooked for 45 min, added some vanilla extract. The flavor is a little bland. Obviously, because 1 1/2 cups of water is added. A lot of chocolate cake recipes use espresso powder to up the flavor and I'd suggest that here. Just add some to the cake batter part. Do not add the liquid to the bottom instead!!! If you do you will get just uncooked cake. The water passing through the mixture is what makes this work. This is what is called a self-saucing pudding. If you don't like this recipe or would like to compare to similar ones that what you can look up. Also for leftovers I noticed right away that the sauce starts to thicken the longer it sets. So I imagine that once scooping left overs into a bowl and microwaving some of the sauce will be absorbed into the cake making for less sauce.
 
Christine April 15, 2018
For those who are willing to try this amazing cake, please get the highest quality cocoa power you can afford, as that'll make all the difference. I've tried it with the Hershey brand the first time and got mediocre result, but once I gave it another go with a premium Dutch brand, Droste, it was exquisite. I highly recommend this recipe with a better brand of cocoa powder.
 
Michelle March 28, 2018
I agree, there is not a lot of depth or sophistication in the flavor of this recipe. It's okay if you're craving something sweet and simple to make, but it's too sweet and almost not worth it. I did reduce the hot water to 1 1/4 cups and the sauce was a decent consistency, but the flavor profile was just too basic--like Hershey's syrup basic. I won't be baking this again.
 
Barbara March 25, 2018
This is nearly identical to the one in my old Betty Crocker (1961), “Hot Fudge Pudding Cake.” It calls for a 9” square pan and that works fine. I think you need that size instead of an 8” pan, as some readers suggest, so that the cake forms the right consistency in both layers. One tip about pouring in the hot water: hold a large serving spoon just above the batter and pour the water slowly into the spoon so it falls over the sides gently and you don’t create a big hole in the batter. My recipe bakes for 45 minutes and has worked every time. A family favorite.
 
Shravan March 21, 2018
Absolute waste of time, effort, ingredients and huge disappointment.. DON'T try it...
 
Christine April 15, 2018
I couldn't disagree more. I used high quality Dutch cocoa power, Droste, and it made a world of difference compared to Hershey's powder.
 
Amy March 20, 2018
I agree about the cake on top and hot water underneath. Did I do something wrong? Also - very sweet without much depth. I'm surprised it was a Community Pick.....
 
Mary March 18, 2018
Don’t waste your time or ingredients on this recipe. Don’t make it for your Easter waffle bar. Not only was it too soupy, it was so lacking in depth of flavor that I don’t even think good vanilla or coffee could save it. If you are going to indulge in a dessert or plan a dessert for company this isn’t it.
 
KM March 18, 2018
I noticed in the source article comments, a few people recommended reducing the hot water by 1/4 Cup to 1 1/4 cups. That might help with the folks who thought their recipes turned out "soupy"? That's what I'm going to try and I'll follow up with results...
 
cindy T. March 18, 2018
Does anyone know if this can be made in individual ramekins instead of one large pan, and can if be eaten the next day?
 
Merrily March 18, 2018
I have never heard of a "squash" baking pan. Did you mean square?
 
Amanda T. March 18, 2018
Pretty sure it's square, not squash.
 
Janet V. March 18, 2018
I would like to make this ahead for an event but then how do you serve it once it's already been cooked? Do you just reheat it or does it all have to be eaten right after baking?
 
draya3 March 18, 2018
So if we don't devour the whole cake, should we just microwave individual servings of leftovers?
 
Amy M. March 16, 2018
This came out like soup underneath an unbaked cake top. So disappointing. We ladeled it into bowls and microwaved each serving for about 2 minutes and saved it!
 
PJ March 15, 2018
I know this as Chocolate pudding cake, but when I made it for my university room mates we doubled the sauce ingredients and renamed it Greedy Pudding! A true comfort food.
 
Jeanne March 18, 2018
A very old recipe that I first tasted in elementary school in out school cafeteria. Chocolate Pudding Cake was/is a fabulous dessert. So nice to see it here.
 
annie March 12, 2018
I'm not sure if I made this recipe properly. When I took it out of the oven, there was still a lot of water left. Should I bake it in the middle rack or lower?
 
Tom D. March 12, 2018
Yes I made it yesterday and it was a bit soupy.
 
Jenny March 11, 2018
Could I also substitute the milk for almond milk?
 
Abbygail March 10, 2018
Could I make this vegan by subbing the butter for vegetable oil/coconut oil; and the milk for another kind of nut/oat milk?